Tag Archives: Oliver Stone

The Set of 400: #214 – My Favorite Big Screen Tuberculosis

Today! Because there’s a cancer in the presidency and it’s growing –

Nixon (1995)

Directed by Oliver Stone (x2)

Starring Anthony Hopkins (x5), Joan Allen (x2), James Woods (x2), Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Powers Boothe (x3), Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Hyde Pierce, David Paymer (x3), J.T. Walsh (x3), Mary Steenburgen (x2), Kevin Dunn (x3), Brian Bedford, Fyvush Finkel (x2), Annabeth Gish, Tony Goldwyn (x2), Larry Hagman (x2), Edward Herrman, Madeline Kahn (x2), Dan Hedaya (x3), Tom Bower, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, George Plimpton, Marley Shelton (x2), James Karen (x2), Donna Dixon (x2), Sam Waterston, John Diehl, Robert Beltran

The last good-to-great movie Oliver Stone has made, Nixon is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered 37th president, even while taking him to task for his many shortcomings as a politician and as a person in general. Throw in a bit of wild Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy speculation and a run time so bloated it manages to encompass decades of Tricky Dick’s life rather effortlessly, and you get a bombastic, overblown, sorta wonderful, sorta insane biopic unlike any other.

The performances carry through some of the more gymnastic directing – it’s a movie drowning in technique and style – with Hopkins’ amazing transformation into Nixon at its center. Many others have taken on this idiosyncratic role – Langella is fine in Frost/Nixon, Spacey a little less so in Elvis & Nixon, Dan Aykroyd’s terrific SNL take – but none were able to capture the manic nuance of the man, while also attempting to physically resemble him, the way Hopkins did. It’s magnificent. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #357 – My Favorite Conspiracy Theory

Today! Because it’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma –

JFK (1991)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones (x2), Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon (x2), Gary Oldman, Laurie Metcalf, Sissy Spacek, Jack Lemmon, Donald Sutherland (x2), Walter Matthau, Ed Asner, John Candy (x2), Sally Kirkland, Vincent D’Onofrio (x2), John Larroquette, Ron Rifkin, Bob Gunton, Michael Rooker, Jay O. Sanders, Brian Doyle-Murray, Wayne Knight, Beata Pozniak, Gary Grubbs, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Frank Whaley

Like most eighth graders, I had a big JFK assassination phase. It was probably prompted by this movie, but there also was a lot of new press swirling around the event at the time of movie’s release, so maybe a combination of the two. Figure, even though the movie very directly covers the trial of Clay Shaw, it also proposes a lot of theories regarding the assassination that maybe hadn’t been widely disseminated, or widely considered, before then. So the press around it was crazy, and 12-year-old Joe got sucked in. I distinctly remember prowling Holy Rosary’s dinky library trying to uncover all the details I could find, in encyclopedias, mostly (shoutout to my long closed middle school!). Continue reading

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